Summary: Typically, people do one of three things with a gift they don’t want: put it in the closet, take it back to the store, or re-gift it for someone else. Poll: fruitcake-people would rather have no gift at all. Unfortunately, some people respond to the gift
WILL YOU REJECT HIM OR RECEIVE HIM?
INTRODUCTION: Talk about receiving bad Christmas gifts. [slideshow]. Typically, people do one of three things with a gift they don’t want: put it in the closet, take it back to the store, or re-gift it for someone else. Poll: fruitcake-people would rather have no gift at all. Unfortunately, some people respond to the gift of Jesus as if he were a fruitcake.
1) Why was Jesus rejected?
• He wasn’t recognized for who he was (10). The Light of the world was here but people were blind to this fact. The light of Christ was shining but the darkness didn’t recognize it. God was here in the person of Jesus Christ but the world missed it. The religious leaders had studied all the OT scriptures that talked about the Messiah. Yet here was the fulfillment of the prophecy before their very eyes and they didn’t recognize it. 1st Cor. 2:8, “None of the rulers of this age understood it [God’s secret wisdom], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” If the world had understood Jesus they would have embraced him and followed him instead of crucifying him. Even Paul didn’t recognize him at one time. 2nd Cor. 5:16, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” There was a time when Paul didn’t see Jesus for who he really was. He saw him as a blasphemer just like the other religious leaders. They failed to see his divinity and simply saw him as only human. People today don’t come to Jesus because they don’t understand who Jesus is. They don’t understand that he is the way, the truth and the life. They don’t recognize that he loves them. Alan Perkins puts it this way: “Although there is truly nothing more desirable than knowing Christ, many people just can’t see it. Their eyes haven’t been opened. They look into the manger, and they don’t see a king. They don’t see the Savior of the World. They don’t see “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. All they can see is an ordinary human being. And so, they pass by the child in the manger and instead seek after the presents. Which do you value more, the toys and trinkets of this life that will all eventually crumble into dust or a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last forever?” Jesus went unrecognized.
• He wasn’t received for who he was (11). Jesus was rejected by his own people. Imagine going home and being rejected by your family. “You’re not welcome here”. That might happen if we’ve done something wrong but Jesus had done nothing to deserve rejection. People didn’t want to accept that Jesus was the Savior. They didn’t want to accept that he was the Lord. People didn’t want to accept his teachings. Jesus’ teachings were radical. Take the Beatitudes. Jesus was teaching that one needed to love their enemies. He taught that one was blessed when they were persecuted. Jesus was challenging people regarding what was in their hearts teaching that it wasn’t just their actions that were sinful it was their thoughts too. The religious leaders wouldn’t accept him because his actions, as well as his words were unconventional. They couldn’t understand why Jesus hung around with “sinners”. They couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to be with them. People today don’t receive Jesus because they want to hold onto the darkness instead. John 3:19, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Part of that darkness is pride. I reject Jesus because in my pride I’ve declared that I don’t need a Savior. Life may be going well for me. I might be well off. “I don’t need the gift of Jesus; I’ve got plenty of other gifts, thank you.” I might not have suffered from abuse or addiction. I haven’t been broken yet. Therefore, in my pride I think I’m doing pretty well and I don’t see the need to change anything about my life. But in my pride I don’t see the deep need that is still unmet. I don’t see the void; I’ve masked my pain through worldly success. I’ve convinced myself I’m happy in these external things but deep down there’s an internal emptiness. Part of that darkness is selfishness. I reject Jesus because I refuse to come under his control; his lordship. I won’t relinquish control of my life over to Jesus. Or perhaps there’s something specific I am unwilling to give up; something of the darkness that I want to keep. Therefore I reject the gift, not recognizing that I am exchanging life for death. Rom. 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I must receive a gift in order to benefit from it. I can’t take hold of the gift if my arms are crossed in pride. I can’t receive the gift if my hands are clenched in anger. I can’t accept the gift if my hands are holding onto other things. Is it really worth it to lose your soul in order to gain your piece of the world? Mark 8:34-37, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” We’ve been offered the best Christmas gift of all. Will we open it?